Author Info

Pat Fream

Pat Fream is a wife, mother and 30-year writer with extensive experience in the human services industry. In all avenues of life, Pat seeks opportunities to hear and tell stories and finds joy in the magic of connecting people with shared experiences. An impassioned fan of seniors, Pat draws wisdom and inspiration from her aging parents and their friends, many of whom are living well in vibrant senior communities.

Author Blog Posts

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Seniors and Mental Health

We’ve come a long way when it comes to identifying, accepting and treating mental health issues. In fact, nowadays it is common for family doctors to incorporate mental health-related questions in routine patient appointments. This is good news for all of us, considering that stats indicate that everyone will be impacted by mental health issues on some level and at some point in our lives.   For seniors, there is often talk of depression, given the dramatic lifestyle changes, losses, and stressful life events they are faced with. For some, depression is a very real condition that needs to be addressed, but for others, the lows they are experiencing are normal feelings that come with the ups and downs of living.   Regressing After Retirement “I thought retirement was going to kill me,” said 92-year-old Ed Jamison, retired chemical engineer.  Read More...

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Meals Matter to Seniors

If you ask most people, a good meal matters. Seniors are no different. In fact, as you get older many people say that food becomes increasingly important since you are less able to enjoy other pleasures that you once took for granted.   “I used to spend a lot of time hiking, biking, exotic travel, long drives with my wife in the country. Now I can’t do any of those things, but I can still eat just fine and I don’t mind saying, I look forward to every meal,” said George Sinclair, a Calgary senior.   The problem is, says George, he is not exactly enamored with the menu at the place he chose to reside, but at the age of 80, he is reluctant to move.   At AgeCare, when it comes to food, listening is top of mind.  Read More...

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Music Tunes Up the Wellness of Seniors

Music is magic.   It is a soothing balm for old wounds, a creative tool for self-expression, a profound elixir for any number of medical conditions, and a potent mood booster for anyone, any age, any day.   For seniors, music is particularly golden. It can help improve their attitude and it paves the way for important socialization. It requires little effort, skill or cost and provides boundless entertainment and joy.   At AgeCare, music is a highly prized activity, offered in various forms at all locations.   AgeCare Orchard Manor in Brooks, Alberta offers regular music programs including acapella sing-alongs, and musical entertainment featuring singers and instrumental performers.   “I read somewhere that music is the glue that holds our memories together - it helps, even people with cognitive impairments, to recall memories that might otherwise be lost,” said  Read More...

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The Art of Engagement — Bringing Seniors into Focus

In retirement residences across the country, recreational staff are busy innovating and planning - striving to create just the right complement of programs and activities to entice the residents who call the facility home. No doubt it can be a bit of a challenge, hitting the mark with such a diverse array of people from all walks of life.   For Rosal Yade, Activities Coordinator at AgeCare’s Governor’s Walk in Ottawa, the formula is simple: “We look at each resident as a whole and unique individual, taking into account their full life up to retirement and bringing their background and life experiences forward into the next phase of life,” said Rosal. She adds, “I make it my mission to get to know everything I can about each one of them, beyond their needs, preferences, medical requirements. To really make someone  Read More...

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Seniors Flourish in the Company of Kids

It’s not rocket science. When you put seniors in the company of kids there is an instant connection … joy abounds.   “I can’t describe it,” says 87-year-old Louise at Calgary’s Kirby Centre program that invites seniors and kids to do art together. “Just being around these little people lifts my spirits.”   This vital connection is the subject of many news stories from coast to coast and is the basis of a nation-wide government initiative pronouncing June 1 as Intergenerational Day Canada.   As noted on the BC government website: “Research shows that intergenerational programs increase self-esteem and feelings of well-being for older and younger participants. Friendships between older and younger people help make communities stronger.”   At AgeCare Walden Heights in Calgary, the concept of uniting kids and seniors is highly prized.   “In our view, our multi-generational  Read More...

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Aging in Place ~ What it Really Means

You’ve heard the term ‘Aging in Place’ but what does it really mean?   The formal definition of Aging in Place is “having the health and social supports and services you need to live safely and independently in your home or your community for as long as you wish and are able.” In a practical sense, Aging in Place has important mental and emotional implications for seniors. It allows them the freedom and ability to make and be supported in their personal choices for as long as possible.   It also allows them: A sense of safety and security The benefits of routine and a social network Proper nourishment and care A sense that they have some measure of control over their aging experience A way to preserve their dignity A quality of life they deserve   For seniors who  Read More...

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Socialization is Good for Seniors

We all know how satisfying and enriching it can be to spend time with friends, but did you know that it can also improve your health, boost self esteem, and may even ward off dementia?   The benefits of having an active social life have been studied for years, and according to some seniors who are currently living in a residential community setting, these findings have merit. In fact, these folks say they are living proof that socialization is good for you.   “To be honest, I think having people right outside my door every day and spending every meal talking with other seniors has prolonged my life,” said Joan Carter, from her home in a senior’ residence in Calgary. “Back when I was living alone in my home, I would see people just maybe once or twice a week,  Read More...

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Seniors Targeted in Scams

We live in a world where fraud, theft, and privacy violations are a very real and common threat. This is a tough reality for all of us, and even more of a concern for seniors who are vulnerable on so many levels, and often the target of elaborate and convincing scams. Recently I learned of a residence in Calgary, where four different seniors were contacted early in the morning by a man claiming to be a Toronto police officer. He told them he was calling to say he had apprehended a criminal who was in possession of these individuals’ credit cards. The ‘so called’ police officer knew each of the senior’s names and addresses, and was very convincing in his account of the crime and the fact that their security was at risk. The seniors, who had been asleep when  Read More...

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Holiday Gift Giving for Seniors

Consider the 3 Es: Experiences, Expressions and Edibles ’Tis the season of joy and of course, you want to spoil your favourite senior! The question is… what can you give your loved one that they will cherish, without overwhelming them or adding clutter to their simplified living space? Don’t stress, consider one of the three Es! Experiences (1) Together Time You can never get enough precious moments together. Consider getting tickets to an event they would love, such as the symphony, the ballet, a music concert, a sporting event, or live theatre. Plan the gift of a special lunch out with friends, or an afternoon movie with grandkids. Take them to the zoo or take in a planetarium show at the Science Centre. Visit a museum of interest or an art gallery. If they are well enough for travel, consider  Read More...

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Senior Loneliness — How You Can Help

For many, the holiday season can be a particularly lonely time. This is especially true for seniors who are living on their own and don’t have close family ties.   “My husband and so many of our friends have passed on now,” said 79-year-old Donna Watson of Calgary. “I have a nephew in town but I don’t like to burden him over the holidays, he has his own kids and grandkids to occupy his time.”   New research shows that isolation and loneliness is a growing trend for ageing Canadians, and this problem can lead to a deterioration of physical and mental well-being. In some instances, loneliness in the senior population is considered an epidemic and is linked with dementia and premature mortality.   For Donna, regular attendance at her local YMCA is key for her overall health, but she  Read More...

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